Sunday, December 26, 2010

Disarming a Civilization

Working on a side project hopefully destined to become a novel some day. I've been envisioning the world of another novel in the Einstein's Blues universe, this time on the moon called Glory. Lots of stuff goes on in it, but one thing that sprang fully formed to my mind the other day, and it's a nice fresh paranoia to keep folks through the new year.

Imagine that millimeter wave radar (one type of invasive scanner at airports) becomes inexpensive. Imagine a slightly fascist government. Now imagine that every light post you walk past may be scanning you, and the scan is being analyzed by a pattern matching computer or an AI for weapons. Your civilization has just been disarmed.

Of course, being my creation, even the somewhat fascist government in question is pragmatic and only insists people not carry guns. Edged weapons, since they produce few collateral casualties and do not significantly improve one's ability to resist the police state, are perfectly fine, at least in some areas.

Glory's shaping up to be a fun place. Rather more cyberpunkish than the story I've been working on in this universe.

Don't expect to see any of this soon. Brass and Steel: Inferno will be chewing up my writing time for quite a while.

Have a happy new year. :)


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Whoops. I knew it had been a while since I updated here, but I didn't realize it was two weeks or so. Sorry about that. My bad.

Not a lot to say here. I've been accepted to a writer's workshop for this summer (as a student, mind you) which I'm looking forward to, and I've been busy doing the Christmas thing, so writing had to take a back seat to that for a bit. This is normal this time of year.

So being that Christmas is upon us, let me wish you all a merry Christmas. Don't celebrate it? No problem. Hopefully it will be a merry Saturday for you anyway. We're going out for Chinese buffet, weather permitting.

Just in case I'm as tardy with my next entry as I was with this one, let me also wish y'all a happy new year (2011). May it bring you health and comfort, and of course, joy.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why Tech Companies Die

This article should be required reading for any executive team at any high tech company. Wow. How many times have we seen companies go through this process?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brass and Steel: In Print

It's my pleasure to announce that my short story, Brass and Steel is in print in Science Fiction Trails magazine.

The folks at Science Fiction Trails have been great to work with. I can't say enough good things about David B. Riley and Laura Givens.

For more information on Brass and Steel and on Science Fiction Trails, please click the link above, or in the new section of the front page of the website, marked "Short Fiction". Hint. If you're reading this on my website, it's to the right of where you're looking now, below the novels.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Site Update

I just finished overhauling the website. It doesn't look that much different, although there are subtle changes to the theme and nearly all the pages. The underlying guts are substantially changed.

There are some changes you may notice.
1. Support for antique, non-css compliant versions of internet explorer is gone.
It hadn't worked right for a while anyway.

2. Books is renamed to "In Print".
3. Buy Books is renamed to "Buy".
4. The Bookshelf and Press Info pages are gone
Nobody was hitting them.
5. Downloads is renamed to "Download"

Known issues:
If your browser window is bigger than about 1300px wide, the nav block becomes detached from the rest of the content, which is pinned to a maximum width of 1280. I know I can fix this by putting everything inside a container div the width of the browser, but I'm trying to find out if there's a nicer (easier) way to do it from the CSS side of things. Remarkably, setting the body max-width doesn't work at all.

If you find any bugs, links trailing off to nowhere, etc, do please let me know.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Planes, trains, and... well just planes and trains.

from Looking Glass: I look through the perspex at the train, watch it spread apart, the microwave links providing power and communications between cars little inconvenienced by the doubling of their transmission range. I can see the T1 itself, the big fission reactor on wheels, as it goes into a turn to arc around the switchyard. A light jolt and a flicker of the lights in the car tell me the fork is complete. I watch the train streak away, only a few cars diverging from it to join up with the car I’m in as we turn away from the main line and hit the brakes, decelerating toward the station, the g-forces pulling me against my seat belt a bit at first, easing down as we slow. Not so different from a jet landing in the old days, and much more gentle than a suborbital reentry, or so I’m told. Safer than both. There are almost always survivors in a train wreck.

Two items talking about my fictional trains.
First, this about the Chinese train that now holds the world speed record for a passenger train. According to China's Xinhua news agency, the CRH380 train hit 416.6kph, about 299mph. That's slightly more than half the speed of my fictional trains, which clocked in at 800kph - 497mph or so - the cruising speed of a jet liner. But those numbers were just for my convenience, to make Looking Glass' aggressive story timeline work. But realistically? I think 416kph is plenty fast. That would be Denver to Emeryville (San Francisco Bay Area) in just shy of 6 hours. Now the airline flight is 2 hours and 37 minutes flight time. Add two hours ahead of time for security theater in the airport, and that 6 hour train ride starts seeming pretty darn reasonable.

Second, is this photo of the Pennsylvania Railroad's first T1 locomotive, from whence I took the name and inspiration. I don't think it's too difficult to morph the Chinese train's locomotive and this old streamlined steam engine together into a coherent locomotive, personally. My T1s would lack the enormous side-rods and drivers, of course, since they are essentially a nuclear-electric power plant on wheels and most of the motive force for the train comes from motors in the cars. But still, the problems of accelerating a large volume of hot water persist, and I think my T1s wouldn't be too different from this.

Must resist temptation to try and 3d-model it. :)


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